This Friday is Independence Day, July 4th. Unfortunately, lots of people think of it as nothing more than a day off work. The holiday represents so much more than that. The 4th of July is the day on which we declared our independence from Great Britain in 1776. That’s 238 years ago this year!
What we’re actually doing is celebrating freedom and the passage of the Declaration of Independence. Historians tell us that on July 3, 1776, John Adams wrote this to his wife, Abigail: “The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”
When people think about the type of government we have, most will say it’s a democracy. Technically, however, what we actually have is a federal republic. A federal republic means that individual states have some powers, but that a national government has authority over them and that the people have the power to elect leaders who govern according to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. As a matter of fact, the United States is one of the world’s longest lasting republics in what is called “the modern era.”
Throughout the last 238 years, our country has never undergone a coup, revolution, or other form of internal breakdown that has led to the overthrow of one administration and replacing it with a new one. Even the Civil War didn’t cause an internal breakdown, which very few other countries can claim. And speaking of the Constitution, some may be surprised to know that it actually didn’t go into effect until March 1789, two years after it was sent to the states for ratification in 1787.